Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Be careful what you wish for: telecom edition

Oh, this is rich.

First, the iPhone launches, with AT&T as its only US provider, and an unlimited data plan as the standard package.

Because the iPhone is popular, users flock to AT&T. Because internet access from the iPhone is easy, people do it, a lot.

AT&T's network staggers under the load, leading to dropped calls and poor performance.

AT&T's solution? "Some form of usage-based pricing for data is inevitable," according to the Associated Press.

What I want to know is why anyone was surprised by this. The history of the internet -- the history of computing -- tells us that if you make access easier, people will do more of it. And now AT&T is shocked, simply shocked, that people are actually using all those bandwidth intensive links that Apple so helpfully provides.

Of course AT&T's dilemma is real. They need to improve service, and the money to do that has to come from somewhere. But capping usage seems like such a late-1990s way to go about it. Given the bandwidth demands of the Apple Store, I wonder what Apple will have to say about this.

(Link by way of the Atlantic business channel.)

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